army SOP

Topics: Cold reading, Forer effect, Subjective validation Pages: 26 (8032 words) Published: May 28, 2014
cold reading

Robert Todd Carroll

cold reading
"In the course of a successful reading, the psychic may
provide most of the words, but it is the client that
provides most of the meaning and all of the
significance." --Ian Rowland (2000: 60)

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Cold reading refers to a set of techniques used by professional manipulators to get a subject to behave in a certain way or to think that the cold reader has some sort of special ability that allows him to "mysteriously" know things about the subject. Cold reading goes beyond the usual tools of manipulation: suggestion and flattery. In cold reading, salespersons, hypnotists, advertising pros, faith healers, con men, and some therapists bank upon their subject's inclination to find more meaning in a situation than there actually is. The desire to make sense out of our experience has led us to many wonderful discoveries, but it has also led some of us to many follies. The manipulator knows that his mark will be inclined to try to make sense out of whatever he is told, no matter how farfetched or improbable. He knows, too, that people are generally self-centered, that we tend to have unrealistic views of ourselves and that we will generally accept claims about us that reflect not how we are or even how we really think we are but how we wish we were or think we should be. He also knows that for every several claims he makes about you which you reject as being

inaccurate, he will make one that meets with your approval; and he knows that you will remember the hits he makes and forget the misses. Thus, a good manipulator can provide a reading of a total stranger, which will make the stranger feel that the manipulator possesses some special power. For example, Bertram Forer has never met you, the reader, yet he offers the following cold reading of you:

Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty
unrealistic. At times you are extroverted, affable,
sociable, while at other times you are introverted,
wary and reserved. You have found it unwise to be
too frank in revealing yourself to others. You pride
yourself on being an independent thinker and do not
accept others' opinions without satisfactory proof.
You prefer a certain amount of change and variety,

http://skepdic.com/coldread.html (1 of 8)3/31/2005 6:32:58 PM

cold reading

and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by
restrictions and limitations. At times you have serious
doubts as to whether you have made the right
decision or done the right thing. Disciplined and
controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome
and insecure on the inside.
Your sexual adjustment has presented some
problems for you. While you have some personality
weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for
them. You have a great deal of unused capacity which
you have not turned to your advantage. You have a
tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a strong
need for other people to like you and for them to
admire you.
Here's another reading:
People close to you have been taking advantage of
you. Your basic honesty has been getting in your way.
Many opportunities that you have had offered to you
in the past have had to be surrendered because you
refuse to take advantage of others. You like to read
books and articles to improve your mind. In fact, if
you're not already in some sort of personal service
business, you should be. You have an infinite capacity
for understanding people's problems and you can
sympathize with them. But you are firm when
confronted with obstinacy or outright stupidity. Law
enforcement would be another field you understand.
Your sense of justice is quite strong.
The last one was from astrologer Sidney Omarr. He's never even met you and yet he knows so much about you (Flim-Flam!, 61). The first one was taken by Forer from a newsstand astrology book.
The selectivity...
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